Friday, February 02, 2018

Polar Bears Could Be Struggling to Catch Enough Prey, Study Shows

A polar bear wears the special camera collar on the ice of the Beaufort Sea. (Credit: Anthony Pagano / USGS) Click to Enlarge.
Polar bears could be failing to hunt enough seals to meet their energy demands, new research suggests.

A study tracking the behavior of nine female bears from 2014 to 2016 over the Beaufort Sea found that some of the animals exerted so much energy during the hunting season that they lost up to 10% of their body mass in an 8-11 day period.

Polar bears live on a diet made up of ringed seals, which they hunt from the ice surface.  However, sea-ice cover in the Arctic is falling at a rate of 14% per decade.  This may be forcing some polar bears to travel further in order to find their prey, the authors of the new research say.

Female bears who lose large amounts of weight during the spring hunting season could find it more difficult to raise their cubs to maturity in the following months, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

However, it is not yet clear how such changes could be affecting the long-term survival of adult polar bears, he adds.

Read more at Polar Bears Could Be Struggling to Catch Enough Prey, Study Shows

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